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Your Support Promotes Self-Sufficiency

By Skye Ten Eyck

Winter 2021

“Sometimes people exit incarceration, they find a place and they do well until—life happens. There’s an electric bill they can’t pay or the kids need school supplies. Something happens, and some folks relapse or lose their housing because they don’t have money for just one thing,” Sponsors’ Housing Liaison Terri Hsieh explains. “The Way Home is a safety net. It stops that snowball effect that can occur from one obstacle.”

Terri works with a wide variety of participants who have difficulty securing long-term housing—parents, elderly folks, and people living with disabilities.

“Our program participants are fighting an uphill battle,” she continues. “They have to figure out how to talk about their conviction histories. And they have insufficient income, no rental history, and poor or non-existent credit.”

The unfortunate reality is that the strikes against them are major. The process of trying to find a home often leads to feelings of helplessness, especially when they have little to no support. Often, they just give up.  Advocates for Way Home participants work tirelessly to ensure they can avoid homelessness and achieve housing stability. They work to connect participants with property managers and rental owners who believe in second chances. But when they do connect to willing landlords, new barriers often arise, including steep deposits.

Terri recently worked with a participant with disabilities who, after months of searching, finally secured an affordable housing unit. Her relief at being offered a home was nearly squelched when she was told she would have to provide nearly $3,000 in deposits. Terri learned the participant was required to pay two additional deposits to compensate for her lack of rental history and low credit score. With support from Terri and The Way Home, the participant was able to obtain the necessary financial resources to cover her security deposit and move into her new home.

Once participants find a home, the next part of the program kicks in, which is focused on helping individuals to stay housed and access necessary resources to continue moving forward.  Dedicated Reentry Navigators support participants as they connect with state and local agencies (Social Security Administration, Department of Human Services and DMV) and other crucial services. Navigators work to identify financial need and barriers to ongoing housing stability, so they can assist with budgeting exercises and other helpful resources. When participants struggle with behavioral health issues, Navigators are there to offer non-judgmental support and make referrals to appropriate mental health and treatment services.

Terri describes the program as a safety net rather than a band-aid, emphasizing that “[Our] goal is to teach self-sufficiency and help participants achieve lasting stability.”

This isn’t grammatically correct but it’s a quote. Can we suggest to Terri we say “The participants we work with are facing an uphill battle.” OR “We’re facing an uphill battle.”

Actually, I’m just going to rewrite this and, if you like it, maybe you can ask Terri if it’s okay? Or if she has additional changes she would like since it’s her statement?